Organizations offering meals to the hungry

Since last night, volunteers in Durham spent their time cooking 80 turkeys on the grill and arranging clothes and shoes to give away to more than 1,000 people.

Durham Rescue Mission Founder Rev. Ernie Mills says it is an important meal for their neighbors.

"They're working poor and yet they're struggling to pay their light bill and their water bill and their rent and yet we feel like we can be a big help to them today," Mills said.

The Mission says they are helping more people than ever because of the economy, but they want to help as many people as they can.

One former resident at the Mission says she is hoping it will change someone's life, as her life was changed.

"We came in 2005," former resident Christie Barfield said. "I was unable to hold down a decent job to support my little girl and I wasn't really sure how to function as a mom. I now have a job that I've had for three years. I'm a lead teacher in a daycare and I have a beautiful little girl that's singing for the Lord."

Barfield says she knows how much one meal can mean to someone in need that's why she came back to the Rescue Mission for Thanksgiving to help.

"Giving just a little bit of hope," she said. "If there's someone that doesn't have anything and maybe not know the Lord, if they receive a meal, they may get more than just physical food."

The spirit of giving is also alive and well at the Raleigh Rescue Mission.

Volunteers spent Thursday morning preparing meals for others in the community for the "Gobbles To Go" program.

They assembled boxes full of many of the items needed for a Thanksgiving meal. The dinners were distributed to more than 700 families in Raleigh.

And people dealing with financial hardships also got a helping hand in Fayetteville.

Several organizations rolled up their sleeves and rolled out meals to feed the homeless and those who were too sick to leave their homes to get something to eat.

One of the biggest turnouts was behind Vick's Drive-In on Rowan Street, where a group called The Caring 7 offered Thanksgiving meals to those who have fallen on hard times. The group has been doing it every year since 1996.

Across town, another labor of love to feed the less fortunate took place at Highland Presbyterian Church.

This year, organizers say the need is greater than ever.

"The need has really grown," Pastor Dr. Ernie Johnson said. "What we had was about 2,100 meals last year. We're going to be up to about 2,400 - 2,500 this year. We noticed in our food pantry every week the lines are out the door. So there's a real need this year. I think maybe the economy and all that's going on."

Many individuals and groups from area churches and youth groups came to participate in assembling and packing the meals.

"We have College Heights Presbyterian. We have The City Rescue Mission, Cumberland Interfaith and Meals on Wheels," program coordinator Darren Tinney said. "We've just kind of partnered with these groups. And we also provide bulk food for the Salvation Army about 400 meals that they're going to serve today for their Love Lunch program."

They prepared and shipped out over 2,000 meals to area homeless shelters and to those need in the community.

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